Div. 4 softball: Skyler Steele belts two HRs, Frontier rolls past Monument Mountain for spot in Sweet 16 (PHOTOS)

Monument Mountain’s Meg Dupont slides in just ahead of the tag of Frontier third baseman Hailey Hutkoski during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Monument Mountain’s Meg Dupont slides in just ahead of the tag of Frontier third baseman Hailey Hutkoski during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Skyler Steele (10) circles the bases after hitting one of her two home runs against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Skyler Steele (10) circles the bases after hitting one of her two home runs against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Raine Wonsey delivers a pitch against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Raine Wonsey delivers a pitch against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier third baseman Hailey Hutkoski (7) throws out a Monument Mountain runner during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier third baseman Hailey Hutkoski (7) throws out a Monument Mountain runner during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Ashley Taylor takes a swing against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Ashley Taylor takes a swing against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Skyler Steele is safe at third base against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Skyler Steele is safe at third base against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Delaney Fifield (12) scores a run against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Delaney Fifield (12) scores a run against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Abigail Schreiber (1) tries to get to a foul ball against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Abigail Schreiber (1) tries to get to a foul ball against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Olivia Machon connects for a home run during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory over Monument Mountain in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Olivia Machon connects for a home run during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory over Monument Mountain in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Frontier’s Olivia Machon (9) is congratulated by teammates at home plate after hitting a home run against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Olivia Machon (9) is congratulated by teammates at home plate after hitting a home run against Monument Mountain during the host Redhawks’ 7-2 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on Saturday at Zabek Field in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-01-2024 4:33 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The visiting No. 20 Monument Mountain softball team had each base occupied with just one out in the top half of the first inning, threatening No. 13 Frontier’s seventh grade ace Raine Wonsey in her first career state tournament start.

The youngster didn’t flinch for a second.

Wonsey fanned the next two Spartans batters to get out of the jam and bring the Redhawks bats to the plate for the first time. Following an Ashley Taylor ground out, Delaney Fifield doubled to bring up freshman Skyler Steele.

Just as Wonsey did in the top of the frame, Steele came through for Frontier. She ripped a two-run home run to jump the hosts out to an early advantage. Three innings later, Steele cranked another two-run shot, and Wonsey struck out a dozen Monument Mountain batters in a complete-game gem as the Redhawks underclassmen propelled them to a 7-2 win in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 on a sun-filled Saturday afternoon at Zabek Field.

“It means everything,” Frontier head coach Gary Deane said of the win. “If you don’t play to your potential, you don’t play to your expectations, that’s it. You go home. So it’s everything. Win you advance… Kudos to our youth here. Skyler is a freshman and Raine is in seventh grade.”

Saturday marked the third straight season the Redhawks have won a state tournament game, grabbing at least one in every season since the new statewide format. Two years ago, Frontier danced to the Final Four of the Division 5 tournament.

It seems like this group knows how to elevate its game at the right time, even with the distraction of summer on the horizon.

“Some teams in the spring, you get tired at the end of the season in the state tournament,” Deane said. “This team doesn’t do that. Instead of fading into summer and into graduation, I think a lot of them are starting to maximize their potential, and it’s awesome to see. I’m so proud of them.”

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After Steele and Fifield put the Hawks in front, 2-0, the two were back at it in the third. Fifield ripped her second double of the day to lead off the inning. Steele reached on an error to bring Fifeld home, then later scored on a sacrifice fly from Liv Machon to bring Frontier’s lead to 4-0.

An inning later, Steele blasted her second moonshot (scoring Taylor, who walked), this one a no-doubter.

“I kind of just wanted to blow the game wide open,” Steele said. “I wanted to help my team do everything we can to win, so I was trying to swing for contact and, I don’t know, I guess I just have a lot of strength.”

“Skyler leads us offensively,” Deane added of his freshman, who earlier this season notched 100 career hits. “If we can get a player on, or two players on, ahead of her, she responds so well. We’ve gotten through games just leaning on her. Today, it was a couple people who had some good bats, but if you hit two home runs you’re gonna be the offensive player of the game. She just enjoys the game so much, too.”

The next batter was Machon, a senior. Deane said Machon had been putting in extra work ahead of the state tournament to be ready at the plate, and she delivered.

Machon sent a line drive over the left-center fence to make it back-to-back home runs. Frontier led 7-0 after four innings.

“Liv also has been focused on the tee and in the batting cage, so it was great to see her come around and hit a line-drive home run,” Deane said.

Seven runs was plenty the way Wonsey commanded the zone. Whether it was the inside corner, outside corner or right at the top, she painted her pitches all day with a blistering fastball.

Wonsey struck out the side in four of her seven innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) in the fourth while walking three and scattering five hits.

“She was hitting her spots today,” Deane said. “She was hitting the corners. She over-powered a lot of those batters, and she has a head for the game. She never gets flustered. I think they had bases loaded with one out in the first inning, then she struck out the next two. She’s getting better as the season goes along.”

Fifield finished 2-for-4 with two runs along with her pair of doubles, Machon drove in two runs to go with her solo shot and Gabby Adams added a single.

Steele enjoyed a 2-for-4 day, reaching base three times including her two home runs, while adding four RBIs and three runs scored.

“It means a lot to come through for these girls, because I love them. They’re like my sisters,” Steele said. “We all get along very well and it’s just a very good community so it was nice to step up.”

No. 13 Frontier awaits the result of another Division 4 Round of 32 contest, where it could face one of three different teams. The most probable Round of 16 matchup is with No. 4 Advanced Math and Science, which would either be on Wednesday or Thursday at a time to be announced.